Brain Plasticity and Culture

In a recent book “Brain and Culture” (MIT Press), Dr. Bruce Wexler, a Yale psychiatrist, considers some of the many implications of brain plasticity research for cultural progressions. One special point of his book is the way that our brains specialize, through our plasticity mechanisms, to create a model of the culture (our world) into…

Brain plasticity and the law

My wife Diane and I just returned from a working visit to Japan (I was an instructor in a “Spring Symposium” in Kyoto, attended by top Japanese neuroscience doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows). On this trip, we took an extra day to stay overnight in a Buddhist monastery on Mount Koyosan, a sacred site deep…

Miscarriage of justice?

I was dismayed by the recent 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals rejection of a California law requiring that violent video games be labelled, with their purchase being limited to individuals over the age of 18. [You can read the court’s Opinion by going to the 9th Circuit website.] What I most strongly objected to…

A holiday present

The following comments were written by Meghan Lil, who I knew as a darling, sassy little lass, 8 or 9 years old at the time of our first meeting. In my mind’s eye, she’s still a kid. In reality, she’s a beautiful, intelligent young woman. In her words: “When I was in first grade, I…

Going googly

In the July-August issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Nicolas Carr asks us the interesting question: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The article appeared at an interesting time for me, because I had been invited to deliver a lecture at Google about 2 weeks before its publication, and I had already asked Google employees the same…

Autism on the rise; additional factors?

We have earlier discussed factors that our research has indicated may have contributed to the increased incidence of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Whatever factors are contributing to the growing incidence must have three qualities: 1) They must be increasing in human environments. 2) They must be widely distributed on the planet. 3) They must be (collectively)…

Drugs for children with bipolar disorder

Joseph Biederman is probably THE leading advocate for more aggressive diagnoses and more aggressive medical treatments of children with severe neuro-behavioral problems. If you track the research history of this prominent Harvard scientist and his Massachusetts General Hospital colleagues, it documents the development of a new diagnosis of the misbehaving, out-of-control child as “bipolar”, and…

Gory neuroscience

I was surprised to read about neuroscience and the brain considered from a particularly intelligent general perspective in the politician Al Gore’s recently published The Assault on Reason (now a Penguin soft-cover). I recommend this book for its perspective about the relationship between “reason” and “marketing” — as “truth” hangs in the balance — in…

A message from the isles…

No blogs for a few days, because I have been attending a scientific meeting in Crete, and have now moved on to attend a second meeting in Jerusalem. The focus of the meeting in Crete was on the neurological processes contributing to normal and abnormal brain development. I am struck at meetings like this by…